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Don't Rest Your Head $5.00
Average Rating:4.4 / 5
Ratings Reviews Total
19 7
9 3
5 0
1 0
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Don\'t Rest Your Head
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Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Andrew P. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/27/2014 21:47:18
Originally published at http://screenmonkey.blog.com/?p=43.
DRYH is a fascinating little indie game that really brings it's theme out with the mechanics of the system.  It's one of the first Indie games I ever bought, and remains one of the few I've actually had a chance to run.  The PDF is fairly short, being only 87 pages long, including the cover.  But they manage to pack a lot of game in there.

The art in the book is pretty decent, all black on white photo's of really people, very grainy and evocative of the setting.  That setting is the Mad City, which is a lot like our cities, turned up to ten and seen on an acid trip.  It's always night there, and you can find things that just could not exist in the real world, like a marketplace where you can buy and sell memories.  Or the Tacks man, an entity that will take you apart piece by piece, not just physically but also metaphorically.  Maybe this time he wants your ability to laugh, or the way you feel about music, and he can take it from you, a little at a time.

The game centers around the Awake, people who were once garden variety insomniacs who have been sleepless so long that now they no longer have a choice about being awake anymore, they've lost the ability to sleep voluntarily.  In exchange they've found their way into an impossible place that butts up against our world, and they've also found power that defies reason.

Mechanically the game is very simple.  You start with your Discipline dice pool, which is always three to start.  Any roll of 1,2 or 3 is a success.  You roll against the Director, who rolls a Pain pool based on what you are facing.  This pool can run from a single die up to over a dozen.  Seems like the player has a distinct disadvantage, but they also have two other pools that help out.  The first is Exhaustion, which they can add to any roll.  It starts out at zero, but in any scene you can voluntarily increase it once, even right before you roll.  Once you have an exhaustion die going though it sticks around.  Once you hit seven exhaustion in your pool you are going to crash, falling asleep and becoming a helpless victim.  There is also the Madness pool, and you can add up to 6 dice of Madness to any roll, and they do not stick around like exhaustion.

Another part of the die mechanics is that you also look at your highest die, in all pool.  That tells you which aspect dominates the action.  If it's Discipline, skill dominates and you have no downside to the roll.  Exhaustion dominating means that you taxed your resources and you add another exhaustion die to your pool.  If Madness dominates you give up a bit of control and things get more chaotic.  You have a number of responses available to you, either fight or flight.  If Madness is dominant you check off a response and act accordingly.  If you choose flight, you try to get away, huddle in a corner or generally flee the area if able. If you choose fight then you stick around and get aggressive, which may not be a good thing when you are outnumbered.  And finally, if the Directors Pain pool is dominant then things get a little worse for you.  Maybe reinforcements show up or a stairway gives out under you and you loose track of the person you were following.  All of these are independent of the success or failure of the roll, so you can succeed and still have it be a hollow victory if pain is dominant.

The awake also have talents, one exhaustion and one madness.  Exhaustion talents are things that normal people can do, but for some reason you excel at.  You might be a master gambler, an amazing shot or just so smooth you can talk your way out of trouble.  Madness talents on the other hand are things that are flat out impossible.  Teleportation, Mind Reading, Flight, all are on the table for Madness talents.  The thing is, to use either type of talent you have to roll the appropriate dice as part of your pool, and they get more effective as you increase the number of dice rolled.

Another thing to note in the system is the way they handle the typical character creation 20 questions thing.  In DRYH there are only five questions, but they define your character and what they are trying to do, as well as their past.  The questions are what's been keeping you awake. what just happened, whats on the surface, what lies beneath and what's your path.

The first is why you are even one of the Awake to begin with.  The second deals with what happened to push you over the edge into being awake.  What's on the surface shows the way people view you, and what lies beneath is the hidden aspect of your personality or past.  What's your path is your ultimate end goal, what you are trying to accomplish overall.  These are used by the Director to shape your own personal plot.  In most games these questions, if answered at all, would be going into back story and might come up once in a great while.  In DRYH, they are the central reason and motivation for everything you do.  The characters of this game are not necessarily going to be hunting for treasure or lost secrets, and their reasons for doing what they do should be much more personal and visceral than the typical adventurer in a fantasy or modern game.

This is one of the two indie games that I always mention to people who are looking for something a little out of the ordinary, and I highly recommend it.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by McIntyre W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 01/04/2014 10:27:59
This product lays out a great game. Quick to set up, fun to play, and different from many dice-heavy games. It leaves rather a lot to chance, but that helps make the story.
The layout could use some work, as certain important rules are tucked away in strange places.
The artwork, which is black and white, is probably supposed to be dreamlike or convey an insomniac terror, but all it ends up doing is look ugly.
4/5

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Seth W. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 06/04/2013 04:45:10
Five dollars? Seriously? Buy this. Buy this now. It's easily worth 3-4 times that price. If you like more freeform roleplaying, if you like quirky horror in the vein of Coraline or the darker parts of The Phantom Tollbooth, if as a GM you enjoy telling a story but don't like having to keep track of a bunch of different statistics , then this is definitely the game for you. Don't Rest Your Head has the honor of hosting the single most successful roleplaying campaign I've ever done.

First off, I'm a big fan of Don't Rest Your Head's system because it manages to get around the morass of technical rules that bog down other systems. Combat, skill checks and other obstacles are all resolved with the same type of roll, making the system incredibly easy to pick up, and the simplicity of the dice rules makes it easy to resolve the conflict quickly and move on with the story. At the same time, the system has a number of clever features that mechanically reinforce the game's main themes: limited personal resources, pyrrhic victory, and eventual burnout. This is not a game for power gamers; player characters WILL spend the campaign on a slow downward spiral towards oblivion, or worse. But hey, that's what makes it an effective horror game.

The only caveats and complaints I have are these: first, your group absolutely has to be dedicated to building a story together. Even one player who's more interested in throwing dice than roleplaying can throw off the dynamic. A bad GM is even worse, because the game achieves its simplicity by taking a lot of power away from the dice and giving it to the GM. Second, the game has highly unusual dice requirements; while it runs entirely on d6s, it requires that each player have a certain number of dice of distinct colors (specifically, three of one color, six of another, and six of a third). This requirement is mechanically important, so make sure you can meet it.

My favorite thing about this system, though, is its infinite potential of expansion and customization. The book does a pretty good job of laying out a solid foundation for the Mad City and its inhabitants. Officer Tock, the Tacks Man and Mother When are all antagonists that can make players wet their pants if played right. However, should you want to introduce a unique challenge or antagonist to your game, it's simple as can be: just come up with a concept and assign it a Pain rating based on how difficult you want it to be. Easy. You'll spend more time figuring out how to make your original creations work narratively than making them work mechanically, which is just as it should be.

Overall, if you're like me and you love roleplaying a good story, you're going to be enormously fond of this system and setting. I'd consider it fairly priced at $15; at $5, it's an absolute steal. Buy it.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Thomas B. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/09/2012 00:04:18
The book suffers from some bizarre organizational issues, not unlike someone who was working on little sleep suddenly remembering to discuss something a few pages after he had mentioned it. However, this is easily forgiven as the book includes oodles of page references, a functional table of contents and a very useful index. The art is, apparently, largely clipart and photoshopped, and very evocative of the setting, though its still a larger strain on my printer than I really wanted in the Printer Friendly version. Fred took great pains at various points to explain why things were important, how they impacted the game mechanically, and how they influenced other factors. This was some of the clearest RPG writing I have personally read in a while, and if this is the quality found in Spirit of the Century, then I’m sold.

On the downside, all the extra dice, two bowls, and a bunch of pocket change is kind of an inconvenience, but the gameplay seems like it could be well worth it. This is one of the best, if not THE best “taint” systems I have ever seen…tempting PCs to dip a little into the dark side, as it were, and then fighting like Hell to get out. I could see using this system to run a scenario not unlike the Suffering video game, and I certainly wouldn’t mind if more taint systems played out this way. That said, the system is designed to do one thing very well…if you’re not buying into the concept, there’s not much for you here. However, Fred Hicks and Evil Hat have, at no point, tried to claim otherwise, but I felt it worth mentioning.

If you like horror RPGs, unique systems and indy RPGs, its definitely worth picking up. It has a great hook and a unique system that feeds the flavor of the setting, making the sense of desperation a very real thing as you fight and explore the Mad City. Highly recommended.

For my full review, please visit http://mostunreadblogever.blogspot.com/2012/10/tommys-take-o-
n-dont-rest-your-head.html

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Aaron H. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 03/23/2012 15:09:26
The following review was originally posted at Roleplayers Chronicle and can be read in its entirety at http://roleplayerschronicle.com/?p=19581.

Don’t Rest Your Head is a psychological, player focused mind trip of a game that incorporates aspects and ideas from some of today’s most innovative writers and film makers into a unique game setting that will keep you up all night.

OVERALL

Don’t Rest Your Head isn’t new, it’s been around for 6 years and during that 6 years it has helped to change the way designers and players look at RPGs. Don’t Rest Your Head is a high concept advanced RPG that is player centric and player focused. Character creation is mechanically simple, but intellectually challenging. The game focuses on the players who are suffering from insomnia in such a way that they are now known as the awakened. The player’s lack of sleep has opened up an existence that inhabits a place called the Mad City. The Mad City plays host to diverse denizens like the Wax King, the Blind Knights, the Roof Rats, the Paper Boys and the Ladies In Hating to name a few. In the Mad City there is a 13th hour and it is dangerous. All of these elements combine to create an RPG that easily gets into your head and is as far from the normal hack-and-slash dungeon crawl as can be.

RATINGS

Publication Quality: 10 out of 10
Don’t Rest Your Head was produced before the concept of crowd sourced funding was around. Even without the benefit of public support Evil Hat Productions managed to produce a solid product that is minimalistic, well-thought out and useable. 99.95% of this rulebook is in black and white; the only color present is some red shading and a touch of blue on the face and in the hair of the person depicted on the cover. When color is done right it blows my mind, when black and white is done right it holds this eldritch power that is hard to explain.

Fred Hicks showed sheer genius in his use of black and white to create the mood and feel for Don’t Rest Your Head. At first glance, the page borders create the feeling of ripped pages, but as I delved into the book I got more of a feeling that the black around the edges of the pages represented the darkness creeping into the reader’s soul as they become immersed in the world of Don’t Rest Your Head. The fonts used in this rulebook resemble old newsprint typeface. You could easily picture this being done on an old school typewriter or printed in an even older school newspaper. This book sets the standard for the use of stock photos. All of the photos are in synch with the text and the skilled use of Photoshop makes some stock photos that many people will recognize feel fresh and in some cases imposing. Some of the art has been altered just enough to look like the old plates that were inked then pressed on paper in the early days of printing. Nothing in this rulebook is overdone or overwrought in this book.

Mechanics: 10 out of 10
Don’t Rest Your Head does not have a crunchy rules system. For the type of game that Don’t Rest Your Head is, the rules are just right. When there is a conflict the player rolls three dice then can add additional dice based on the possible addition talents and madness dice. A roll of 1,2 or 3 is a success, the total number of successes is called a degree and the person who has the highest degree wins the conflict. Conflicts can occur between players, between players and the GM or between players and the environment. Tie goes to the player. There are other factors that come into play but this is the basics. If you want to get all of the details, buy the book. This is a game of simple dice pools and easy to learn rules. The rules are easy to learn and not complicated, they are flexible and simple enough to cover most situations and the entire feel of the game follows the rule of cool. The rule of cool states: If it is cool and not covered by the rules always go for cool, or strange or odd or just plain freaky. (Please note that the rule of cool is a subset of the Bro Code, unisex version 2.5.)

Desire to Play: 10 out of 10
This game is not for everyone. If you are the type of player who likes to name your character Fightor and the only time you speak at the table is to let the GM know your roll results, avoid this game like the monster under the bed. If you enjoy role-playing games that focus on the player, this is for you. At the more than fair price of $15.00 USD for the hard copy and $5.00 USD for the PDF there is no way you can go wrong with this book. This is a great convention game and perfect as a short term game. There are mechanics that allow you to run an extended adventure, but I think it works best in the short role. Because of its’ outstanding price point it is an affordable game to introduce to most gaming groups. This game is worth your time and money.

Overall: 10 out of 10
Don’t Rest Your Head was, and in some way still is, ahead of its time. This game embraces a player centric focus that many games forget. For many GMs, especially the ones who normally railroad their players, this game will be a huge change for you, in the best possible way. In this review I used the word players but throughout the entire Don’t Rest Your Head rulebook, the player characters are call protagonists. While this might not seem important it really is. This lets us know that this game is a storytelling game that is focused on the players, not the GM. There is no room in this game for NPCs in god mode. There are points in the game where the players actually take the game over. For some players who have never run a game or are table flowers this could be a deal breaker. This game is truly a team effort and if you have the right team or even mostly the right team you will enjoy it. This is a game that delves into human emotions, feelings and, most of all, fears. Don’t rest your head opens that closet door that kept you awake at night. It crawls under the bed where that unseen, but well-known, creature lurks. Don’t Rest Your Head looks down between its’ legs to see the potty hands before they grab you!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Daniel D. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/24/2011 20:52:14
This is another game with several reviews behind it. Always a good indicator for a good game! Don't Rest Your Head does what many horror RPGs do with positing a secret world that that the uninitiated are unaware of. What is different here is that the initiated are those that cannot sleep. Not just, "I have slept in a day" variety insomniacs but the, "I haven't slept in weeks" kind. Where as extreme sleep deprivation would result in sudden unconsciousness or death in the real world (look it up) the effect here is unnatural power...at a price. The powers can be as weird as origami that becomes real things to making your shadow do your bidding. These are player generated powers tied to origin stories but a supplement for the game gives other really great ideas. The other world I mentioned is a nightmare city that overlaps normal reality. Peopled by the stuff of dreams and nightmares. Our heroes are trapped within this city for a specified period of time and must stay awake as they hunted by creatures who want them taken care of for various reasons. The interesting trick Fred Hicks does here is using rope that the GM gives freely at player request. To either climb out of a jam, tie up enemies or hang themselves with. The rope is exhaustion and madness pools. Augmented by player request, carrying immense power and risk. They are represented by black and red D6s. Should your exhaustion over take you you fall asleep and fall to the mercy of the monsters who hunt you. Should your madness become too much you become one one of the monsters. For the full system scoop you need to pick up the game. As for the setting it just drips with nightmarish whimsy. The descriptions are not fully fleshed out intentionally to give the GM room to run. The art is composed of unique starkly contrasted black and white photos. The writing is great but like another reviewer I found the examples of play a little hard to follow. So if surreal horror with a dash or urban fantasy is your thing the fantastically designed Don't Rest Your Head should be top of your list. For all others...revise your list to fit this game!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Jason L. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 11/09/2010 11:30:44
The setting/premise is a very flavorful and engaging one: By staying awake past the point of madness and exhaustion, your eyes truly open and you see the city "beneath" the city. There's a section on "sources of inspiration" in the back that name-drops Neverwhere, Dark City, etc., and I'd agree that this RPG does an admirable job of capturing the feel of a dark, surreal world layered over our existing one. The rules are a simple dice-pool affair, but instead of being based on skills and attributes, the number of dice you roll depends on how much Madness and/or Exhaustion you're willing to draw upon for the action. Both can give you amazing abilities, but at the risk of going just a little bit nuts or wearing yourself too thin. The game system is obviously built from the ground up to support the central themes, and it lends a synergy that ties the whole experience together. My only complaint is that the writing can be a bit quirky at times -- for example, the book opens with an Example of Play that was a bit hard to follow -- but only to the point where you might have to go back to reread a section after you've read the REST of the book for context. Strongly recommended.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Devon K. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 10/12/2010 14:12:13
This game is set up to be a lot of fun and a very interesting ride. The game is very character driven. Any story a GM has come up with will only serve as backdrop for the characters and their motivations. The game has a wonderful mechanic of despair and hope. And the fact that hope is pulled from despair very much gives a feeling of never giving up.

The game is well put together. The art goes along perfectly with text. The descriptions of places and monsters isn't overly wordy and gives just enough of a guideline so you can make the world and the game your own. I'll be very interested to put this game to the test and run it through!

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Daniel O. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 07/20/2010 00:19:18
This is an amazing tabletop RPG! It has very simple, yet very flexible system and one of the most well constructed settings I’ve ever seen. A must try for anyone who likes horror RPGs.

Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Don't Rest Your Head
Publisher: Evil Hat Productions, LLC
by Matthew M. [Verified Purchaser]
Date Added: 02/03/2009 23:11:05
What can I say, the system of Insomniac Super Heroes! The mechanics can only really work for this setting, and that is what makes it shine.

This is now, and probably forever, going to be my Halloween Game system.

Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
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